What inspired you to be a Police Officer?
What do you eat?
Have you any brothers and sisters?
Do you like your job?
Just a few of the many questions I have been asked during my tour of schools throughout the south of Bedfordshire over the past few enjoyable weeks.
In readiness of me attending each school asked the children to draw a picture of ‘what a police officer does’ and as a result I have thousands of super drawings, which will be showcased in our new community hubs.
I have though selected the top six and this week I have the pleasure of attending ‘end of term’ assemblies at which I have presented the talented pupils with a framed copy of their image along with a certificate from the Force.
After over 20 years of locking up the ‘bad guys’ and being the senior investigating officer for some serious and complex investigations, which attracted very lengthy custodial sentences, this is what a ‘good news’ story really looks like.
In my experience the police uniform can, in some circumstances and within some communities, be seen as a barrier, but without a doubt the young people still absolutely love it.
I wanted to embrace this opportunity to build a better relationship with my communities and restore some confidence. I picked out lower schools deliberately to start off with, firstly for the above and secondly to use them as a voice to share with their families and friends that the police are here to be trusted and that we are very much a part of their community and there started my plan…
I have to say that I completely underestimated the number of lower schools and also the changes to the system. And in the south we are also blessed with a really diverse make up – from small village schools with no more than 50 children, to the huge metropolis that cater for over 900. What a great opportunity to reach out to all!
Before I attended, each school was asked to inform the children in advance and to get them to draw a picture of their understanding of police / a police officer, which I would use as an ice breaker at the start of my assembly.
During the session I would include key messages around safety, dangers and bad behaviour, but also build in the individual school ethos or values, which are along the same lines as those held by the Force and what we would all expect from a thriving and harmonious community.
I finished off by asking: “Who wants to be a police officer?” – to which gladly there were several raised hands, (including some of the teachers clearly wanting a change!) and I asked all the children to share my key messages with their families, friends, neighbours, well everyone.
One of these messages being that the police can be trusted, that we are a part of the community, and that we want to work together to keep everyone safe – which I know has worked from feedback from some very proud parents and pleased head teachers.
This is but the start and my teams will spread this engagement plan out to all schools in the area, along with some other initiatives which are already under way across than the county, such as the ‘Junior Police Squad’.
That said, we all have a responsibility to engage with our communities and ensure that they have trust and confidence in the police and what better opportunity than to use the ‘community hubs’ we are establishing to be that link between the police and our schools.
Superintendent Sharn Basra – Head of Community Policing South
The ‘Top 6’ list is…
- Bella Allen – Studham Lower
- Harrison Moodie – Eaton Bray Academy
- Charlotte Palmer – Beecroft Academy (Dunstable)
- Aleena Mahmood – Downside Primary (Luton)
- Scarlett McKenzie – Greenleas (Leighton Buzzard)
- Harry Tott – Chalton Lower